Today at work I was faced with a rather unpleasant afternoon. Unusual circumstances left my co-workers and I facing angry, frustrated and unconsolable guests. I held up under considerable stress but saw my co-worker break down under the pressure he faced. If I hadn’t spent the past few years cultivating equanimity I couldn’t have found a smile for our guests or kept sharpness from my voice and I may not even have made it through the shift.
It’s often easy to miss the practical benefits of a spiritual practice, but these two aspects of my life recently have reminded me of how much my capacity to be unwaveringly present with hardship has expanded with my practice. Whether tonglen or a simple mindfulness practice, the fostering of equanimity and presence is incredibly powerful. The less we turn away from, the better able to live with grace and act with compassion we become. This bears fruit in everything we do, from our work to our relationships and into our times of solitude; nothing is left untouched by the kindness we muster through a resolve to never turn away.